The Electrical Industries Charity celebrated the 85th Anniversary of the Southern Region Spring Ball with the Royal Marines Band marching up a storm.
This impressive milestone was marked in some style at a new venue, the swanky Hilton Brighton Metropole, which saw over 550 guests raising money for the Charity. The Bands of HM Royal Marines were the real stars of the show and got everyone in the room waving their Union Jack flags to the tune of Rule Britannia. It was a spectacular moment which added a real sense of occasion and emotion to the night.
Equally as popular were the eight-piece band Candy Apple Blue who had everyone dancing the night away in what can only be described as a highly entertaining but rewarding evening for an excellent cause.
Thanks to the wonderful support of sponsors, supporters and guests in attendance, an incredible £40,000 was raised, which will help the thousands of people in the electrical industry going through challenging and traumatic times.
EIC has recently focused its efforts on supporting those with mental health problems and those suffering with cancer. Ian Lawson, Chairman of the Electrical Industries Charity – Southern Region explains: “I have been lucky enough to have been part of this Committee for over 10 years now and this is my last year as Chairman. What a turnout, the biggest in recent history! Over the last 85 years of this event we’ve helped 6,000 people in the Southern Region. We’ve raised 2.3 million pounds over that time, which is amazing, and we have relied heavily on the people in the room tonight to support the Charity.”
On the night, Ian discussed a case he was very familiar with. Mark, an electrician, had worked in the industry for over 20 years. Mark met Rosa 10 years ago and fell in love. Rosa already had a two-year-old son when they met and it was her dream that her son would be raised in the UK. Mark became a great father figure and loved him as his own. Sadly, late last year, Rosa was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer, which came as a huge shock to them. Mark had been a rock throughout the treatment and given that there had been a lot of unknowns about her treatment, a work colleague approached EIC to support the family. As a result of the uncertainty around Rosa’s illness, the Charity stepped in with financial and legal support, assistance with setting up a will and help with adoption. Their response was quick; a will was drafted within a week and the adoption process was well underway. In a matter of weeks of this happening, Rosa’s condition worsened and tragically only weeks later she passed away. This was just five short months after her diagnosis.
However, sadly the adoption process had not finished. Rosa’s family won the battle to take her son back to Spain. Mark was understandably heartbroken. Mark himself had no family to turn to in the UK and the Charity quickly became his support network, on top of the services EIC had originally provided.
Ian discussed the case and the impact cancer has on us all: “It is hard to imagine the feeling of firstly losing your wife and then a son that he thought of as his own. Sometimes it’s the other actions that matter, just beside all of the other important stuff the Charity does, it literally is like having one big family ready to step in at any point. The Charity established its partnership with Macmillan in 2015; this was to support our people from our industry in financial distress as a result of cancer treatment. At the moment, one in 10 of our cases are around cancer and that unfortunately is on the increase. Every two minutes in the UK, someone is diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is 97% higher in the UK than anywhere else in the world. Amazingly, half of cancers in the UK are diagnosed at a late stage. New research in the UK shows that one in two of us born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer at some point, which is a shocking statistic. Many of us in the room tonight may have already been touched by cancer, so we all have a role in supporting our charity and our industry.”
Putting it into numbers hits home, as on average £100 provides accommodation to someone who needs to travel for cancer treatment. £1,000 will pay for an interest-only loan for a family receiving statutory sick pay while undergoing treatment, while £5,000 will pay for two months’ worth of mortgage fees. As the average treatment time of cancer is four months, through fundraising, every pound really does count.
Daren Pool from Triple Star Security is taking on the Challenge for a Cause – Croatia 2019 trip in order to give something back to EIC. Daren explains: “As a company we have thrown ourselves into supporting the Charity. People don’t realise how much the Charity can do to support someone; it’s a sleeping giant. I have seen the benefits first-hand of the wonderful work EIC can do to help people; it is life-changing as they see the real side of the cancer. I shall be setting off for Split in Croatia to raise funds for electrical industry members in need through the EIC by taking part in the internationally recognised 15th IT Regatta 2019 CIO Business Sailing World Cup.”
You can sponsor Daren and support the family here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DarenPool
Neil Chapman, Sales Manager for Timeguard and Management Committee member, found the night to be highly beneficial: “This year’s Spring Ball really helped to raise the profile of the Charity. The Chairman’s speech was an honest and earnest statement which I believe helped inform key members of our industry of what the Charity is trying to achieve whilst also delivering a great night out.”
Loyalty is a strong factor in the electrical industry, as underlined by Joe Mee, Director, Edmundson Electrical, South East Region: “I’ve been with the company 25 years and we’ve always supported EIC as best we can. We like what the Charity stands for and we appreciate what it does for the people in our industry. Our colleagues have used the services and it has made a significant difference to them in many ways. I think Ian has done a fantastic job; the marching band was a great idea."
A similar sentiment was expressed by Mark Abbey, Director, YESSS Electrical: “We have been in business seven years and we have sponsored it from day one. Anybody within the industry who needs help deserves it, and if like-minded people can come together and support this Charity that’s what we should be doing. It’s been an excellent night, with excellent company.”
The nature of the electrical industry can make it hard for people to be supported when they are working away from home as Phil Williams, Regional Director of Rexel, explains: “The work EIC do is key; as we’ve seen at previous events, people in the industry seem to be affected more than the average, with many people travelling a lot and being away from home, so it’s important the support is there. Rexel have been supporting the Charity for years. Within the business, it’s really important they continue to support the Charity in all of the regions.”
The conversation around mental health continues to grow, and knowing free and confidential support is available for colleagues, friends and family is vital. Neil Hooper, Managing Director of AICO, said: “Over the last few years we’ve supported EIC. A month ago, we donated £20,000 as I know some of my colleagues are using their mental health services. It is the only industry charity and we should all be supporting it. Last year we named EIC as a company charity as we raised£23,000. It has been a cracking event.”
Paul Church, Group Manager of CEF, shared his thoughts around the topic of cancer and mental health: “We have CEF Cares which is our own organisation’s charity. With CEF Cares, we get involved with every other organisation, including EIC, and all charities are very important to us. Everybody has been touched by cancer or mental health, and mental health issues seem to be growing in the younger generation. It was very touching to hear what Ian had to say tonight, and I am glad we are part of the occasion to raise money for the funds. It’s been a fantastic, it’s good to mix with your colleagues in the industry even though they are your competition – you can put your business aside and just enjoy yourselves.”
After hearing stories on the night about people EIC has helped, Liz from BEW Electrical felt the need to text her group of friends and encourage them to get involved with the Charity and donate: “Mental health and cancer issues hit home with everyone. Sometimes a lot of these issues go unnoticed for a long time before it’s too late, so I think it’s really good EIC speak about such topics. It brings a tear to your eye hearing the stories about people they have helped. Whether they are a direct link to you or not, it literally pulls at your heartstrings.”
With mental health issues highly prevalent in the sector, Mike Collins at Ansell Lighting decided to learn more by attending EIC’s free mental health courses. “I like what the Charity do as they look after their own people. You never know when you may need the services they offer. I attended the mental health courses they offer at the end of last year, which were really useful to help my own team.”
Ian’s final words highlighted the pivotal role that exposure plays in raising awareness of the work the Charity does. “We have 12 people on the Management Committee who are all active in the industry. It’s amazing to see the support we’ve had tonight. This event has grown from around 120 people to 550 people, and I am so proud of what the Committee and EIC have done. The greatest thing that has happened to the Charity is exposure. In many ways the Charity is still the best kept secret in the industry, but each and every day that secret is being spread. The people here tonight are the people who need to spread the word. I don’t know of another industry where competitors can all come to an event and party together.”
Ian Lawson thanked his gold sponsors: Aico Ltd, City Electrical Factors, Edmundson Electrical, Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, Rexel London and the South East Region and YESSS Electrical for their support in making the night a big hit.